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Anti-LGBTQ Candidate Wins First Round of Brazil’s Presidential Elections

Brazil’s answer to Trump won the first round of its presidential elections but did not win the majority required to prevent a runoff race.

Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain often referred to as the “Trump of the Tropics,” took 46 percent of votes in a crowded field of 13 candidates. The runner-up, Fernando Haddad, finished in a distant second with 29 percent.

The result is even better than expected for Bolsonaro, a once-fringe candidate who experienced a sudden surge in popularity after surviving an assassination attempt in September. Opinion polls projected that the 63-year-old would win the first round with 35 percent of the overall vote.

Because Bolsonaro failed to earn more than 50 percent, the two men will face off in a second round of voting on Oct. 28.

Early polling conducted prior to this weekend’s election showed Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad in a virtual tie in the second round, which favors moderate candidates. However, Bolsonaro’s strong finish over the weekend casts doubt on those forecasts — he earned 50 million votes overall.

His probable victory is of grave concern to LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups, who have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest his incendiary rhetoric.

In a 2011 interview with Playboy, Bolsonaro claimed he would be “incapable of loving” a son who is gay, adding that he would prefer his son died “in an accident than show up with a mustachioed​ man.” He once told a female politician he would never rape her because she’s “not his type,” saying she was too “ugly” to be raped.

Claiming Afro-Brazilians are “are not even good for procreation,” Bolsonaro has also referred to black people as “animals” who should “go back to the zoo.”

Bolsonaro’s extreme far-right views — which include his advocacy for torture and fondness for military dictatorship — have appealed to Brazilians incensed with the Workers’ Party (PT). The left-wing ruling party is largely blamed for the country’s stagnant economy and rising crime levels, which reached record numbers in 2017.

Haddad, the ex-mayor of Sao Paulo, stepped in as the Workers’ Party candidate when ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was banned from running in September 2018.

In addition, Bolsonaro has polled extremely well among evangelical voters in Brazil, who make up 29 percent of the country’s population. Although he is Roman Catholic, evangelicals have enthusiastically responded to his pledges to imprison corrupt politicians and allow police to shoot suspected drug dealers with little impunity.

Bolsonaro has also vowed to bolster family values, despite being married three times. In a January 2018 interview, he bragged about using the housing allowance he received as a congressman to “have sex with people.”

Brazilians will head to the polls again in three weeks’ time.

Photo by Nelson ALMEIDA / AFP / Getty


Nico Lang

Nico Lang is a staff writer for INTO, covering news, politics, and global LGBTQ issues.